By Fifi Enyi
Calgary’s first taste of a fringe theatre festival will have to wait until next summer due to a shortage of Þnancial support.
Calgary Fringe Festival organizers were unable to secure the last $20,000 required to save the festival. An 11th hour appeal to the general public resulted in various individual and corporate donations from both Calgary and Edmonton, but the last minute attempt did not pay off.
"Basically it was a financial consideration," said Festival Co-producer and Co-founder Dennis Cahill. "We did not have enough money to properly produce the festival and rather than go into
debt, which would be incomprehensible for us to do in our Þrst year, we decided to postpone."
The Fringe Festival is a new concept to many Calgarians. Calgary is one of the major cities in Canada which does not have its own fringe festival.
"I think every major city in Canada, plus a number of smaller cities, has a fringe festival; it’s quite a circuit," added Cahill.
"It is a huge and daunting project," said Festival Co-producer and Co-founder Miki Stricker. "Many people have wondered why a city that claims to be world class doesn’t have a fringe festival."
A fringe festival encourages individuality and self-expression in a theatrical form. Performers and the audience are given the opportunity to indulge in direct challenges and conversation. Content, form, language, and style are shaped at the performer’s discretion.
"No artistic body makes a decision as to what is going to be performed," said Cahill. "In that way it’s very different than juried festivals or festivals where groups are brought in, so you’ll see a wide variety of performances."
Other fringe festivals are renowned for showcasing and hilighting fresh talent, as the forum is relatively unrestrictive.
"Within the festival there is more opportunity for writers and directors," said Cahill. "Fringe festivals are a stepping stone for up and coming talent. There are companies that have made their name by being on the fringe. They put themselves in the fringe festival and they are likely to sell out because of their reputation."
Although this year’s Calgary Fringe Festival was not a success, organizers are optimistic they will have more time to plan next year.
"We just ran out of time," said Stricker. "Next year we won’t have time working against us."
Plans for next year are already underway. Organizers hope to capitalize on the millennium hype by appealing to both corporations and individuals early.
According to Stricker, this year’s festival experienced a lack of donations, although many people were interested and supportive of the festival itself.
"Most of the donors we talked to turned us down," said Stricker. "However, many of them expressed interest in the festival."
Some of the money received for the festival was subject to conditions and stipulations.
"We received a grant from Calgary Regional Arts Foundation, but that grant would be money we would receive after the fringe was successfully produced," explained Cahill.